OP Home > Locations > North America > Mid-Atlantic Wild!

Locations



Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mid-Atlantic Wild!


From lawyer to naturalist, Ian Plant is now living the dream

Image ZoomThis Article Features Photo Zoom
"Make an effort to find your own special places that no one has photographed before," Plant points out. "And, as always, you must constantly strive to push the envelope in your photography—to go 'extreme' in trying to find new angles and perspectives, even in these remote places."

The Outdoor Experience
Plant's photography treks include a combination of pre-planning and spontaneity. "For landscape work, I scout a location before the magic hour of light begins, looking for powerful compositional elements such as shapes, colors and foreground to background progression," he says. "From there I wait, adjusting my composition, depending on what's happening in the sky or with the light on the landscape."

For wildlife, Plant's approach remains flexible, but he still uses some advance planning: "I strive to photograph wildlife in the same dramatic light that I seek for my landscape photos. Knowing about the animal and its behaviors also can help you be in the right position for the magic hour."

Mid Atlantic Wild
Fog and flowing grass, Craggy Gardens, The Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.
For Plant, patience remains vital to great photography. "Learn to use patience for recording truly magnificent light that makes a scene come to life," he says. "One has to be willing to wait long hours in the field and to return to locations over and over again to get the shot right. You must be willing to do it all over if the shot doesn't happen."

Revisiting a location or scene is something Plant strongly recommends, regardless of whether photographing from the road or in the wilderness.

Plant does come across scenes when the composition jumps right out and becomes obvious. "More often than not, however, I struggle to find what I want," he says. "Sometimes the struggle leads to an epiphany and a great image ensues. Sometimes it doesn't. I'll often go back to a location where I previously failed and found something I liked. As the old saying goes, 'Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you'. I've been eaten by bear more times than I care to count."

Making The Image Unique
In crafting his compositions, Plant tries to view the elements of the scene as abstractions: "I look for repeating shapes, lines and forms. I'm also very much into 'atmospherics'—I love compositions where something interesting is happening with clouds in the sky or with the weather, such as mist. Along with unique lighting, I'm looking to find compositions that create a mood. Where both mood and composition come together, that's where I want to be."

I love compositions where something interesting is happening with clouds in the sky or with the weather, such as mist. Along with unique lighting, I'm looking to find compositions that create a mood. Where both mood and composition come together, that's where I want to be.

Another technique in Plant's toolkit is perspective. Look closely at his images, and you'll notice he isn't always standing, but rather he's closer to the ground.

"I personally love the low-angle perspective," he says. "I try to get into the scene as much as possible, so I can effectively transport the viewer into the composition. Sometimes that means you have to get low and get close to your subject. I find this technique particularly helpful with landscapes, as it creates compositional tension between the foreground and background. It also can be helpful with wildlife, since it offers the viewer a sense of the environment where the animal lives."

Mid Atlantic Wild
LEFT: A macro-sized praying mantis; RIGHT: A snowy egret, Richardson Marsh, Maryland.
Plant has incorporated into his digital workflow the use of Photoshop's blending for multiple exposures. "My favorite landscape lens, the Sigma 12-24mm, has a built-in lens hood and a bulbous front end, making use of filters impossible," he says. "So I was forced to blend multiple exposures for this lens in situations that would otherwise require a graduated neutral-density filter. I liked the results so much I've almost altogether stopped using graduated neutral-density filters on my other lenses. Blending allows you to avoid those unsightly dark areas that often occur at the transition zone when using these filters. I think a smoother and more natural transition can be achieved through blending."

Plant's cameras of choice include the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II for landscapes and the Canon EOS 20D when photographing wildlife from his kayak. He uses a combination of Canon and Sigma lenses. "Sigma has many innovative and high-quality lens choices that I find very appealing," Plant says, "including what I call my 'bookend' lenses: the Sigma 12-24mm wide-angle full-frame zoom and the 300-800mm telephoto zoom."

The Bay Of Light
Plant's latest book, Chesapeake: Bay of Light, has received rave reviews, including a recent write-up in the book section of The Washington Post. For Plant, this book is his signature piece and the one of which he's most proud. "I try to explore areas that haven't been photographed to death already," says Plant. "That's what was great about the Chesapeake project—there are very few nature photographers working the bay, and in the book I tried to photograph the bay in a way it has never been photographed."

0 Comments

Add Comment

 

Popular OP Articles